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Cultural & personal dynamics come hand in hand as an expat

“This is where you’re going to live for the next 3 months”, he said as I gave him a puzzled look.

It was August 2017 and I had just arrived in Brasilia, the city I was going to live & work in as a diplomat.

My landing in Brasilia was full of surprises. I was supposed to be picked up by someone who had arranged all the practicalities for me, but upon arrival I saw she wasn’t there and I also couldn’t reach her. Having traveled solo for many times in Latin America, I wasn’t worried about it, but it did surprise me.

Thankfully my new boss came to pick me up and he drove me to the tiny apartment where I was going to stay for 2 weeks while the actual house I was going to live in was being renovated.

But wait - did he say 3 months? What happened to those 2 weeks?

“Oh didn’t she tell you? The renovation got delayed”.

No, she didn’t tell me, and I was actually quite annoyed with it, because I had just spent an entire month staying with friends, with just 1 suitcase, so that the container with my belongings could leave ahead of me, compensating for the expected waiting time in the Brazilian port 🤯

All the effort and planning I did.. I could just throw it away. Argh!

This situation is a perfect example of the cultural and personal dynamics that are at play (often as the same time) when you’re an expat.

I had to deal with the Brazilian timing and the way of prioritising I would later come to know much more.

And I also had to deal with my own annoyance, disappointment and even anger that came up with it.

As an expat cultural differences can easily trigger all kinds of emotions within you. But in a situation like I had it’s sometimes hard to dissect what personal and what’s cultural, as it can appear is one big blur.

That’s precisely why Coco and I are joining forces in Amsterdam on 13 September. As a cross-cultural consultant (Coco), certified life coach (me) and seasoned expats (the both of us) we will train 30 expats on both the cultural and personal part, so they can really nail their expat life.

This is going to be an insightful & fun LIVE event and we only have a few early bird tickets left. Are you ready to not be triggered by the cultural differences anymore and want to meet 29 like-minded expats? Sign up before Sunday 20 August so you won’t miss out on the early bird discount!

PS. As for me in Brasilia, I took a deep breath, got over myself, took it as a lesson to learn, and ordered an Uber to the mall to buy a coffee machine so I could make the tiny apartment more my home. I also have my priorities 😌

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